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How Avengers #329 Offers a Roadmap for the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Avengers #329 is an overlooked comic. But we should take a look.

If you’re familiar with Marvel comics at all, you’ve noticed that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has an affinity for 90s comics. Granted, it’s only a thread here and there. The MCU of course has never been intent on pilfering storylines wholesale or panel-for-panel. Instead, the intent is to blend the best of things into a product that goes down smooth on the big screen.

So, what things from Avengers #329 might be blended into the future of the MCU?

Click any image to embiggen.

First, some context. Avengers #329 was published in in February of 1991 and written by the under-appreciated Larry Hama. It’s a transition issue that isn’t galaxy-spanning, world-shattering, or whatever bombastic term is used.

In fact, not much happens. At all. The entire issue is essentially a committee meeting, effectively the most boring thing most of us could imagine. So, why does Avengers #329 – a non-page-turner – offer glimpses into the future of the MCU?

Avengers Assembled. Avengers #329 offers a beautiful two-page splash of two dozen Avengers gathered around a boardroom table. The big three of Thor, Iron Man, and Cap are there, as well as mainstays like Black Widow and Vision.

The last time we remember the Avengers on screen, our MCU heroes were gathered for Avengers: Endgame, the biggest movie of all time. The battle with Thanos takes some off the board permanently, sidelines others, and shifts the role of many more.

This will need to be addressed in the future MCU. Given the timeline of the next movies, we’ll only get scattered allusions to it. But at some point we’ll see a scene not unlike the one in Avengers #329. The MCU heroes will eventually need to convene to discuss (and let the audience in on) the future of the Avengers.

Character introductions. We’ve learned not to make one-to-one correlations with the MCU and the comics, but it is fun to see that many of the Avengers gathered in issue #329 have already appeared in the MCU…or have recently been announced to appear. Here’s the list:

  • Monica Rambeau (as a kid in Captain Marvel),
  • She-Hulk (Disney+),
  • Sersi (Eternals movie),
  • Black Knight (Eternals movie), and
  • John Walker (Falcon and Winter Soldier on Disney+)

Avengers #329 brought the above together. How soon do we see it in the MCU?

Charter. I mentioned that Avengers #329 is nothing but a long board meeting. But see the images above. The discussion was actually quite interesting as we reflect on the future of the MCU.

First, the discussion about oversight of the Avengers went global, something already introduced with the Sokovia Accords. Marvel (nor audiences) won’t just forget this. Oversight and public trust will need to be discussed again, it just won’t be Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr. leading that discussion.

In fact, there’s a very pragmatic reason to make the Avengers feel more globally representative. The United States is no longer the #1 worldwide movie market, so it time for the cast to reflect that.

Second, our heroes are looking for continued purpose after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Likewise, they’ll need a continued justification for their existence. These are good motivators in screenplays and the MCU has proven they can film those discussions in a weighty and compelling way.

Reserves. A common trope in Avengers comics is the idea of reserve members who aren’t active day-to-day but immediately answer the call should trouble arise.

Let’s have fun with this and assume that the future MCU will adopt the same reserves policy as Avengers #329. Here’s a quick guess at the primary lineup of 7 Avengers:

  1. Ant-Man
  2. Wasp
  3. Doctor Strange
  4. “Captain Falcon”
  5. War Machine
  6. Scarlet Witch
  7. Black Panther

Some thoughts: This is just a wild guess. We might never see some of these in a movie again because their stories will be concluded on Disney+. Others like Captain Marvel or Black Panther might never be core because they are busy in space and Wakana, respectively. So ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Now, let’s apply the lesson of Avengers #329 and build a “Reserve Avengers” lineup of 7:

  1. Black Knight
  2. Sersi
  3. She-Hulk
  4. Namor
  5. Monica Rambeau
  6. Hawkeye (Kate Bishop)
  7. Shang-Chi

Again, it’s a big ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ here. There are so many future possibilities that it will be an absolute joy to witness how it will coalesce these next few years. But Avengers #329 gives us a basic framework to think about it. Who said throwaway 90s comics don’t have anything to teach us?

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